03 March, 2013
Great Western meet London Midland. One of the few places they do is at Smethwick Galton Bridge Station. Named after the major investor the Galton Bridge spans a large cutting with a railway, a canal and a river. Did you really think there was an old castle in Smethick? Alas Smethwick is a workaday town with little to see and that not very old. Even Portrait of the Black Country gives it very little space, and you can hardly tell where it merges into Oldbury, either by book or by town. I walked under the Galton Bridge which had the widest single span in the world when it was built but is, of course, now dwarfed by other bridges around the world. It has an elegant functionality and you have to cross it to get from the station to the towpath, which I did. There was also a canal tunnel, albeit modern and concrete, to walk through so I did. I came out near the other station, Smethick Rolfe Street, where the river met the canal with a former pumping station now converted to a heritage centre (Closed Saturday afternoons Admission 3/6d). The road bridge over the canal had a fine crop of icicles which failed to glisten in my camera flash. I also found a historic toll house although people tell me it wasn't lost. I think somebody had just left the church unlocked so I was able to go in. I'm not sure it was officially open even now. It was 19th century and pleasant enough with some attractive glass and in good decorative order. There wasn't evan a church there before the 18th Century. The lych gate was dedicated to the Brotherhood, whether masonic or a church orgainsation I do not know.